Aditya Mehta tames Manan Chandra

"It was the most dominant Nationals I have played in. It was solid snooker and tactically very good," said Aditya Mehta.

The winners (from left): Vidya Pillai, Aditya Mehta and Keerath Bhandaal.

Aditya Mehta exuded confidence and class in taming Manan Chandra in the final of the National Snooker Championship here on Sunday. Mehta won 6-3 but not before experiencing some resistance from his opponent.

In the women’s snooker final, Vidya Pillai drew on her experience to stall the challenge from Amee Kamani with a 4-2 verdict. The women’s billiards title was pocketed by Keerath Bhandaal, who had also stunned Varsha Neeraj for the junior billiards title earlier.

The men’s final had its fascinating moments. Chandra took off with a century break and kept his composure to lead 3-2 at the end of the first session. “It was a battle. I didn’t expect him to come out firing that well after the first frame. I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy but I played the waiting game,” said Mehta.

In the second session, Mehta, based in Mumbai, emerged a transformed man and finished off his opponent from Delhi in style, potting the ball with the fluency that marks his game. “It was the most dominant Nationals I have played in. It was solid snooker and tactically very good,” added Mehta, who was biding his time against an opponent who turned out to be inconsistent when it mattered. The first session was scrappy no doubt but the second saw Mehta produce some scintillating stuff. “I just had to be patient,” noted Mehta.

Keerath claimed a superb double. It is about angles and concentration and Keerath, daughter of an army officer, knows all about discipline too. A student of Economics at the Jesus and Mary College in Delhi, she barely practises as an itinerant cueist ought to. “I play six hours a week because I have to strike a balance between snooker and studies,” said the 19-year-old.

She was three when her parents presented her a mini table. And snooker paved the way for her first Nationals at eight. Her father, Lt. Col Sarvanjeet Singh, is her coach. “He can't even hold a cue,” she laughs. But both read a lot on the game and use the information to improve her cue skills. “The game is so holistic. It teaches you the angles, focus, shots and also stamina,” added Keerath, who had to play five matches a day here.

Even as Varsha dreamt of a snooker title, it was Keerath who won in a black-ball finish. “It was high pressure and I survived in the nick of time,” gushed Keerath.

For Vidya, it was her ninth snooker title. The Karnataka cueist said, “I started at 22 but my experience came in handy today. She played some exceptional stuff but I could withstand the pressure,” said Vidya.

The results:

Men’s snooker (Final): Aditya Mehta bt Manan Chandra 6-3 (0-112, 72-35, 8-73, 84-7, 49-72, 74-19, 72-33, 128-1, 83-39); Semifinals: Chandra bt Ishpreet Singh Chadha 5-2; Mehta bt Sandeep Gulati 5-1.

Women’s billiards (Final): Keerath Bhandaal bt Aranxta Sanchis 3-1 (77-51, 54-75, 76-35, 75-73).

Women’s snooker (Final): Vidya Pillai bt Amee Kamani 4-2 (36-78, 73-37, 71-35, 0-88, 62-23, 59-32).

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